Integrating School and Community: The Many Benefits for ELLs and their Families


Liverpool ENL Family Event

This month we interviewed Katie Knapp, Elementary ENL teacher from the Liverpool School District. She tells us about the many ways that the District collaborates with the community to help ELLs/MLLs and their families.

Q. Katie, please give me a short bio about your experience with ELLs.

A. I have been fortunate enough to work with ELLs for the past eleven years. I began my teaching career in the city of Syracuse, working with ELLs at G.W. Fowler High School, followed by teaching at Blodgett K-8 School. I made a switch to Liverpool Central Schools in 2011, and I have been teaching there ever since. Continue reading

OCM BOCES-Responsive Classroom® Blog: Trauma in the Souls of our Classrooms: Deeper Learning – Part 2 of 3

Last month I started a 3 part series on childhood adversities. This blog series was inspired by an individual study that I did as part of my professional development for my Responsive Classroom Certification.

The main resource we used for the study was one that I would highly recommend, Paul Tough’s book Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why (2016). You can visit Tough’s website and either buy the book or download it for free! It would make for a great professional book talk book for whole faculties to share with one another. I made so many connections with Tough’s book with the work I have done with Ruby Payne and Eric Jenson and their work on Poverty. Tough starts his book answering the question why poor children struggle in school and what to do to best respond to children who live in stress. Continue reading

Teaching Social Studies = Using the News (Part 2)

In the first half of this two-part blog, I shared an article from C3 Teachers that addressed the problems that using the news creates for our students. Research and experience shows that students have a difficult time differentiating, news from commercial content, fact from fiction, real news from fake news. In this issue, I share an article that provides an idea about how to engage students in “curating” the news to determine whether news articles are important or interesting or both.

This blog is from Future of History, a blog on MiddleWeb which contains articles and resources for teaching the middle grades.

Let Your Students Curate Current Events Articles
by Sarah Cooper

One of my favorite activities to help students understand the richness of the news is also one of the simplest. I often do it at the beginning of the year, but you could do it anytime you wanted students to think more deeply about the news stories they are hearing, watching or reading. Continue reading

Contemplating Race

One of the first times that I heard about microaggressions was when amendments to the Dignity for All Students Act took effect in July, 2013. While we were preparing the first version of our new certification class, I ran into the word in the required syllabus published by NYSED. Under the heading “Understanding how school climate and culture have an impact on student achievement and behavior” the syllabus states that participants will understand the relationship between harassment, bullying, cyberbullying, microaggression, marginalization, and discrimination on student achievement, attendance and dropout rates.

I remember spending a significant amount of time that summer reading about microaggressions, especially racial microaggressions. Continue reading

Adults Need Closure Too

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of the school year already. And, just like with student learning, closing the learning journey with adults is important. If you are like me, I am trying to find a ways to have closure with my coachees for the school year. Here are some activities you might ask your coachee to complete in order to wrap up the school year: Continue reading

Empowering Students to Become Leaders


2017 Syracuse PR/HYLI Delegation in Albany. Edward Marte, Namirely Pizarro, Greichalyz Rivera, Henrique DeLemos, Geriane Irizarry, Ilan Mizrachi, Charles Thomson, Alisandra Torres, Ashmir Zephyr Sanchez, Itamar Almanzar Perez, Karla Garcia, Naysha Rios, Omarys Rodriguez, Aruasy Barrios, Milton Estevez, Ruth Rodriguez, Gerson Casimiro-Elías.

On March 27, 2017, a bus filled with 17 sleeping juniors and seniors from districts across the Central New York region; including Syracuse, Binghamton, Utica, Ithaca, Solvay, and Whitney Point, made its way back to Syracuse from Albany. Besides the fact that they’re teenagers, what else could have made these students so exhausted? How about three days of waking up before 7:00 am and working nonstop until midnight! Despite the lack of sleep and overworked brains, the first thing out of their mouths as we said goodbye in Syracuse was, “I can’t wait till it starts again next year!”

These words were spoken by the students of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute (PR/HYLI) Syracuse delegation. Continue reading

Working with Paraprofessionals (Part 3)

Including Paraprofessionals in behavior management

Paraprofessionals are an important part of the learning communities. They are in classrooms and non-instructional environments in order to assist students with their academic, social-emotional, and behavioral success. Often times paraprofessionals know students extremely well and have developed a rapport with them.  They are very aware of both students’ needs and strengths and can give insight into their learning because of the close relationship that they have developed.

Teachers will often look to paraprofessionals to help with general classroom management and sometimes provide more individualized behavioral interventions.  The paraprofessional’s role in each of these scenarios should be explicitly determined and explained to him/her by the classroom teacher(s) and special educator(s).  Discussions around expectations for the paraprofessional in regard to supporting specially designed instruction, accommodations, modifications, and behavior plans should occur at the beginning of the year or when the paraprofessional is first introduced to a student and/or classroom.  Regular check-ins between the paraprofessional and teachers is crucial throughout the week.. Progress monitoring, tweaking of interventions, practices aligning to the Individual Educational Programs of the students involved, and any modifications to the expectations of the paraprofessional should be communicated clearly and often. Continue reading